Category Archives: product reviews

A Little Bit Green

I’m a sucker for the printed word. I like the feel of the pages in my hands. Of course, I’m admitting this on a blog and it doesn’t get more virtual than that. I know. In any case, I picked up a free copy of Minnesota Parent a week ago and noticed it’s weight had increased, more articles, more great stuff and a few more ads to make it happen. I loved it. Where is all of this going, you might ask.

I’m getting there.

There was an article that highlighted green baby options, which we all know is an interest of mine. The Honest Company’s diapers were mentioned as a way to do more responsible, safer disposables. And to be honest, I’m getting sick of doing so many loads of cloth diapers. So I had to check them out.

The result?

honest diapers

honest diapers

Great diapers, great company, as far as I can tell. Super cute, high performing diapers that don’t stink like so many of the regular disposables out there do. I’ve ordered a few packages to supplement my cloth diapering. Don’t get me wrong, I still can’t really justify spending money on diapers that I throw away. But, for days when I’m just not feeling the cloth diaper vibe, I will feel good about what I’m putting on my daughters cute little buns and what I’m throwing out with the trash.

The Honest Company is definitely worth a look. The revamped Minnesota Parent Magazine is too, for that matter. Happy reading!


Meow Meow Tweet

I’ve been a Dove girl for as long as I can remember. A Dove deodorant girl, that is. I loved that it was creamy, worked well and only lightly scented. However, the past few years I’ve been noticing more and more natural types of deodorants on the market. And although I’ve been switching to more and more natural products, I hadn’t gotten up enough guts to try any until recently. I came across Meow Meow Tweet via Blissmo and was intrigued by the natural ingredients and the fact that it was a cream. I’ve been really happy with Blissmo highlighted products I’ve tried in the past and it was on sale. So, I ordered it.

And after trying it for two weeks (in the very hot heat of this MN summer), I’m pleased to say that I’m sold. It is a fantastic product. It works great, is lightly scented with lavender (aka: calming), and gentle on that delicate underarm skin. Plus, I feel great about not putting more unnecessary chemicals on my body. And the little jar looks so cute next to my bathroom sink. I give Meow Meow Tweet Lavender Deodorant Cream a confident two arms up. 


the well daily

the well dailyThe well daily is a great find! It is described by founders Sukey and Jackie as, “the ultimate guide for creating health and happiness. [We] curate ideas they believe in, from the best wellness techniques and recipes to products they’ve tried and loved.” They deliver tips for happy, healthy living to your inbox daily for free! Topics cover mind/body, kitchen, beauty, green living and style. And what I love about these bite-sized tips is that they are usually free and totally doable (even for the extra busy people out there).

I truly love seeing these “wellies” in my inbox. If you want to add some joy to your day, sign up and enjoy!

 

 

 


blissmobox

Blissmo what?!

Blissmo is a San Francisco-based company with a mission to promote products that are safer, healthier, and better for people and the planet. What does this mean for you? As a mother and a human being, I strive to be an eco-conscious consumer and citizen of the world. I think everyone would like to live greener lives. But sometimes in this busy age, we feel too overwhelmed with daily life to really spend the time ferreting out the better, healthier, safer products out there. With blissmo, we no longer have that excuse. They do the work for us.

Blissmo offers a few different options to help you discover great, earth-friendly products. You can sign up to receive weekly emails for discounts (up to 70% off) of all different types of high quality organic, non-toxic and eco-friendly alternatives to conventional products. This is totally free and there is no requirement to buy anything, the deals just show up in your virtual mailbox once a week.

The second option (which I love) is what they call blissmobox. In this option, a package is delivered to your real mailbox. For $19 a month (or a little less if you sign up for 6 months at once), you get to choose from 3 different themed boxes (like beauty or cleaning or snacks) each month. Each box (valued between $19-$40) highlights products from a variety of well-known and up and coming brands. You basically get a present in the mail full of surprise products that you might never have heard of that you will love. It’s great.

They also have BREAKbox, which is an option for businesses. This service offers “non-junky” alternatives to traditional break room snacks delivered every 2 weeks right to your office for a fee. This is a great way for businesses to find out about new products as well as help their employees eat healthier and discover yummy new snacks.

Blissmo is harnessing the power of the consumer to help detox our bodies and the planet. In addition to being earth-friendly, they are also a “friendly” company – their vibe is very neighbor next door and the customer service is top-notch. And, the founders just seem like a cool bunch of people. If you aren’t excited about blissmo yet, sign up for a month and you’ll be hooked.


A Mighty Girl

A Mighty Girl a claims to be “the world’s largest collection of books and movies for smart, confident, and courageous girls,” and it probably is. A recent addition to the web, it’s a fantastic resource compiled by a husband and wife team dedicated to empowering girls. It’s incredibly easy to navigate with a variety of traditional (fiction, history) and not-so-traditional (mighty girls, independent princesses) categories. I’ve browsed the site for books for my two girls, but what I enjoy most is their engaging blog and facebook posts. They are right in line with the mission behind A Mighty Girl – highlighting mighty girls, news and opportunities. I’ve found out about so many interesting things I otherwise would’ve missed. They encourage feedback and are always looking for new books and movies to add to their ever growing list. And if you are so inclined, there are ways to support A Mighty Girl as well.

So, check it out. Pin it, tweet it, like it, share it. Be mighty. a mighty girl


Add some “Crunch” to your Life

I came across this quiz to determine your “crunch” factor the other day. Turns out, I fall under the “Mmm! Love that whole-grain crunch!” category. I’ve never considered myself particularly crunchy, but love that I am. I must admit that since my first pregnancy, I have become more and more careful about what I put in and on my body, my children’s bodies, and our living space.

In honor of upcoming Earth Day, here are 5 simple ways to make your life a little greener & crunchier.

Clothcloth diapers and wipes for the kiddos. Mama cloth (reusable menstrual pads) for the mamas. I love them both. There are so many online and brick and mortar stores offering cloth, the choices are endless. There are also cloth diaper services available in most larger cities. Once you make the commitment, you’ll never go back. It takes a little trial and error, but once you get the hang of it, it’s easy and even fun. Plus, cloth diapers require eco friendly laundry detergents that you just might start using for all your clothes, a nice bonus.

Nontoxic Cleaners – there are so many nontoxic brands of cleaners you can buy, you’re bound to find one you like. Real Simple magazine highlighted the best cleaning products in an article this month, many of which are non-toxic. You can make your own green cleaning products – pinterest and other places are a great way to find recipes. Oftentimes, going green can save you money and the products are just as good if not better than their toxic counterparts. And, you can feel better about surrounding your family with less chemicals and leaving less chemicals in our landfills.

CSA or Farmer’s Market – community supported agriculture (CSA) and farmer’s markets are great alternatives to grocery stores. I’ve noticed that the produce seems to be going downhill while the prices are going uphill at the grocery stores lately. CSAs and farmers markets give you fresh produce for less cost. It’s usually organically grown and doesn’t have to travel so far, so it’s fresher by the time it hits your kitchen. This is great if you have a baby too, the less chemicals in those first bites, the better. One more fun way to eat fresh – grow your own! My daughter and I planted spinach, baby carrots and strawberries in container gardens on our deck last summer. It was fun, easy & delicious!

Green Beauty – from shampoos and soaps to lotions and make-up, women put a lot on their skin. I’ve been moving steadily greener and greener with my beauty product choices for the past 10 years. Aveda and Origins are big companies that offer make-up and skin care products with a natural slant. Burt’s Bees, Neutrogena Naturals, Apivita and Reviva are also on my beauty shelf. Next time you run out of a product, try a more natural version. Your skin will thank you.

Recycle – recycling all your plastics, cans, glass and paper is a no brainer. But you can think of creative ways to reuse/recycle things as well. I’ve recently decided to use brown paper bags for gift wrap – my daughter has a blast painting, coloring or adding stickers to decorate the gifts. It saves money, looks cool and provides a fun activity for little hands. Cardboard boxes can provide endless fun for an imaginative child. And you could use old magazines, tissue-type packaging and cards for fun crafts as well. There are so many ideas on the web for fun, eco-friendly crafts you can do with your kids with old stuff you have lying around.

If you’d love to live a greener, crunchier life, but are overwhelmed with all the options, don’t fret. Simply try one thing at a time and see how it goes. And don’t feel guilty if you decide to cloth diaper, but still use a disposable from time to time. Or if you find a great all purpose green cleaner, but don’t want to give up a bathroom cleaner that you love. The point is to take little steps at a time because even little choices can make a big difference for you, your family and the planet. And, guilt is overrated – so, focus on the positive and you might end up getting crunchier as the years go by.

I got extra crunchy points for co-sleeping, babywearing, breastfeeding over a year, and making some homemade baby foods. If I can do it, you can too! In honor of Earth Day, make a pledge to yourself to get a little more crunchy! Good luck and have fun!

Some local resources (not all inclusive, but some of my faves): Peapods, Do Good Diapers, Creative Kidstuff, Garden of Eden, Party in my Pants, Golden Fig, The Bistro Farm


Rockstars

If I were to give advice to new moms, the power of music and dance to transform mood would be at the top of my list. Even from a young age, babies respond to music. Humans seem to innately respond to it. My eight month old loves to listen and even make her own music by banging things together or shaking them. My four year old loves dance parties and has always enjoyed music. And me, well, sometimes it’s just the thing to lift my own mood. Here are a few of the current favorites that play in our home or our car:

All Together Now: Beatles Stuff for Kids of all Ages – an awesome cd and board book that contains great renditions of upbeat, fun Beatles songs, performed by kids and adults. We picked it up at Creative Kidstuff last summer after hearing it in the store and it’s been a big hit ever since.

Dog Train – another book/CD combo, this one is full of goofy songs written by Sandra Boyton (she illustrated the book as well) and performed by an array of popular artists. Really fun!

Fresh Beat Band – this is a recent find. It’s a Nick Jr. show and band geared towards preschoolers with some really rockin music. My daughter’s two favorite songs to rock out to are currently Just Like a Rockstar and Bananas. Think Glee for little tikes. Lots of fun!

In addition to enjoying music in your home, there are a plethora of classes available to parents and children. Your local ECFE or community education is a good place to look. If you are local to the twin cities, Music Together, MacPhail, St. Paul Conservatory of Music, and Kindermusik are a few of the organizations that offer a variety of classes in all variety of price ranges for children. You’re bound to find something that fits you and your family.

Find your own list of faves and play it loud. Enjoy this special play time with your kiddos. Because one day, they’ll probably think you and your dancing are lame. But for now, you’re their rockstar. So, rock on!


Healing Touch

If you are looking for the perfect gift to yourself or a friend post-childbirth, this could be it. As a first time mother, it was somewhat shocking that I no longer had time to take care of myself, much less treat myself. In the semi-dazed state of new motherhood, it seemed impossible to accomplish the simple feats of showering and going to the bathroom, much less spending time primping or indulging in a trip to the spa. Even if said trip was much needed. As a second time mother, I knew better.

Enter Bavia Health.

Bavia knows that when a child is born, so is a mother. That mother has just gone through the amazing physical experience of labor and birth. Her life (and her body) will never quite be the same. And that mother needs some healing and love. Bavia’s massage therapists come right to your hospital room with scented oils, flickering candles and soothing music. They come prepared to relieve the tension in your body, relax the mind and spirit and open up your lymph system to promote healing. According to their website, these services “help enhance muscle recovery, promote sleep and improve nursing.”

Their menu of services has an option for everyone, there is even an option that includes a treatment for new fathers. The prices may seem out of reach, but there are often coupons and special offers. I would encourage you to call rather than just book online because there might be an offer available you don’t know about. You could also hint to your friends and family that you’d really like this service instead of yet, another baby blanket or onesie.

With the aid of a couple of special offers, I chose the Mama Me Ahh… as my service. This full body massage was fantastic. I’d been up all night, with an induced labor with back spasms along the left side of my back. I spent the entire night on my feet or a birthing ball as those were the only positions that were bearable. I eventually had an epidural (that worked too well and then didn’t at all). I was sore and exhausted. After the massage, I felt renewed. No tension, no pain and I actually felt longer. It was incredible.

The folks at Bavia send you a little care package with lip balm and a note welcoming you to motherhood. Everyone I dealt with from the gal who I ordered by service from to the massage therapist made me feel special. They exude a reverence and respect for the spectacularly profound experience of birth and motherhood. And I like that.

Bavia has recently broadened their services to include treatments geared for pregnant women on bed rest and for services for mothers of infants in the NICU. These mothers can really use this extra TLC as they care for their children both in and outside the womb. So, if you are a mother-to-be (for the first or fifth time), indulge. You won’t regret it. If you know a mother-to-be, this is one gift she won’t forget.


The Other Little Black Dress

I didn’t want to wear a hospital gown for my second birth. I didn’t want to feel like a patient, like birth was an illness or an injury. I wanted to celebrate it and treat it as a natural event. So, I searched for the perfect gown. It had to be modest, not too pricey and hospital-friendly. I was not having any luck, and then I found a blog entry about Pretty Pushers. I was curious. A few clicks later, I was sold.

Pretty Pushers are hospital-friendly gowns designed specifically to be worn while giving birth. They are comfortable, ultra soft and beautiful. However, for me, they have nothing to do with vanity. Birth is one of the most unpredictable events in life. You just never know how it will turn out. I bought my Pretty Pusher (the pale purple, I Dream of Coffee version) and was excited about it, but didn’t know if I’d really want to wear it when the big day arrived.

Throughout my pregnancy, I had visions of spending early labor in the comfort of my home, supported by my husband and doula. I had a relaxing playlists all picked out to help me zen out through the tougher contractions and ideas about spending special time with my 3 year-old, possibly baking the new baby a birthday cake, before labor got intense. I had aromatherapy scents, special heating pads, a birthing ball and yoga poses at the ready.

When the time came, nothing went as planned. At my 39 week appointment, I found out I had low water and was admitted and induced that day. I didn’t get to go home and get my things. I didn’t get to bake with my daughter or feel the onset of labor. I didn’t get to prepare emotionally while my body slowly geared up physically for the big event. Instead, I found myself alone in a hospital room, waiting for my husband to return and for my Pitocin induced unnatural labor to begin. Needless to say, I was feeling pretty disappointed, worried about the baby and very patient-like.

The first thing I did when my husband got there was put on the Pretty Pusher. And it immediately lifted by mood. It reminded me that regardless of the situation, I could still make the best of it. I could still access my inner empowered, birthing goddess. And I did make the best of it. All my preparations weren’t for naught. And, I really tested the hospital-friendly part of that Pretty Pusher. I didn’t have to take mine off for fetal monitoring, the epidural or the birth. My nurses had never seen one before and they loved it.

Pretty Pushers’ slogan is: “It’s Your Labor – Own It!” I agree 100% and highly recommend them to all birthing women.


Fluffy Butts

My journey with cloth diapering has been one of trial and error. Before my oldest was born in 2008, I looked into cloth diapering. I liked the idea of putting something natural against my baby’s skin, not leaving human waste wrapped in plastic to sit in landfills for the next 500 years, and not literally throwing money out with the trash. I’m lucky enough to have access to Peapods, a local natural baby specialty store. I went in several times to learn about diapering options and to purchase supplies. I went with prefolds and even scheduled a diaper service for the first few weeks. I was excited about all of this and then the baby came, and even with my great intentions, it didn’t happen. I was just too overwhelmed with taking care of a newborn and couldn’t quite figure out how to fold and get those prefolds on my wiggly little girl.

About 6 months in, I tried again. This time, I tried a pocket diaper and an all-in-one in addition to the prefolds. I used them for a while, at home only, before giving up again.

A few months after my daughter’s first birthday, I did some more research, got my husband on board, and purchased a bunch of one-size pocket diapers that were new to the market at the time. They were Smartipants, cheaper than some of their competition, with good reviews and an insert that comes out in the wash, even in HE washers. I also added a few size-appropriate Thirsties wraps for my prefolds. I set one of the settings on my washer for cloth diapers – a prewash, heavy wash and an extra rinse. It worked great, even my baby sitters thought the diapers were easy to use. My daughter’s sensitive skin was no longer permanently red rashed and I felt so much better. Much less guilt about both the planet and my bank account. I tried lots of different brands and cloth diapering really became fun to me and my daughter. She gave them the nickname, “fluffy butts,” which has stuck in our household.

And, now my second child is in cloth at only a few months old. I’m excited to see how it goes this time and to try new brands along the way. I have used disposables with her, but try to always get more natural types. My favorite is a compostable disposable called Broody Chick out of Canada, but they are a bit pricey. So far, I’m loving the fit of Kissaluvs contours with Thirsties duo wrap covers and Charlie Banana one size. She’s just gotten big enough to fit in the Smartipants one size.

Cloth diapering also introduced me to the existence of reusable cloth menstrual pads, which I love. I know it might sound kind of gross, but it really isn’t. And it makes so much sense. They are softer, more comfortable and more breathable than disposables. And, if you’re already cloth diapering, just throw them in with the diapers. There are tampon alternatives, but if I feel like I need something for a heavier flow, I use Natracare brand tampons. They are all natural with none of the chemicals that regular brands use. I see it as a feminist issue – as women, we owe it to ourselves to take care of our bodies (and our children’s bodies). It seems that products marketed to women geared towards our reproductive organs (and our children), are not necessarily always long-term tested or safe. We deserve better.

Everyone should at least give reusable cloth a try. I think they’re so great, I even wrote an article about them for Savvy Women’s Magazine. And as they grow in popularity, more and more brands are becoming available. My current faves are GladRags and Party in my Pants. I know Party in my Pants offers the “cloth curious” woman a free pad to try. But be forewarned, once you try it, you’ll be hooked.

If you’ve ever considered cloth, for your kids or you, remember to keep trying. There are so many different types of diapers (and pads) these days, you are bound to find a “fluffy butt” that will work for you and your child’s bottom. Your child’s skin, the earth, and your bank account will thank you.


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